"Don't Be Cruel" was originally the A side of RCA single 47-6604, with "Hound Dog" on the B-side, although both sides became chart-toppers, RCA reissuing the single in later decades as double A-side. The single was the first to top all three extant Billboard charts: pop, rhythm & blues, and country & western.
The song was recorded for RCA Victor by Elvis' regular band of Scotty Moore on lead guitar (with Elvis usually providing rhythm guitar), Bill Black on bass, D.J. Fontana on drums and backing vocals from the Jordanaires. Presley recorded this song on July 2 1956 at RCA's New York City studio. The producing credit was given to RCA's Steve Sholes, however the studio recordings reveal that Elvis produced the songs in this session (as well as many others) himself, which is verified by the band members. Presley selected the song, reworked the arrangement himself on piano, and recorded eight takes of the song with the band (number 7 being the take released on the record) during one recording session following the thirty takes of "Hound Dog" (number 28 being released on the record) recorded that day. "Any Way You Want Me" was also recorded in that same session following "Don't Be Cruel". "Don't Be Cruel" and "Hound Dog" were released on July 13 1956.
Presley reworked the Otis Blackwell demo and changed the music and lyrics, just as he did to other compositions by Blackwell. Hence the reason he received co-songwriting credit.
Presley, Scotty, Bill, DJ, and the Jordanaires first performed "Don't Be Cruel" on national television on the September 9 1956 the Ed Sullivan Show. They revisited the song twice more when appearing on the Sullivan Show: October 28 of the same year, and on January 6 1957.
The song, listed as "Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog" at the time of its release, hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week ending August 18 1956, and remained in the top position for 11 consecutive weeks, tying it with the 1950 Anton Karas hit The Third Man Theme and the 1951/1952 Johnnie Ray hit Cry for the longest stay at number one by a single record until 1992's smash "End of the Road" by Boyz II Men.